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New Year’s Traditions from Ireland

New Year's Traditions from Ireland

Almost every part of our planet has some New Year’s traditions – some are unusual, others are familiar to more than one place but almost all make the Holiday Season end better.

Some New Year’s traditions from Ireland are probably found in other parts of the world, but we’re going to bet that you’ll find some unusual Irish traditions that celebrate the passing of the year.

Before moving forward, did you know that people send gifts on New Year’s eve, not just on Christmas? If you have a friend or relative who wants to learn Irish, you can always send him any of the Bitesize products as gifts! Just opt in for this option when buying.

New Year’s Traditions from Ireland

Some people would say that the following New Year’s traditions are only found in Ireland. Is that so? Tell us in the comments!

Clean, clean, clean!

A few centuries ago, there was an Irish tradition that encouraged people to have a spotless clean house before the New Year’s eve party (or celebration). That’s why, most Irish people will clean their house thoroughly before passing in the new year!

Irish New Year’s superstitions

Other Irish New Year’s traditions involved chasing the bad luck from our lives and honouring those who past away but still have a place in our hearts. To chase away the bad luck, people would make some “Christmas bread” and used portions of it to knock on the house walls and doors.

Honouring the dead is an Irish New Year’s tradition that’s kept to the word. Irish people will often add an extra plate and place at the dinner table on New Year’s eve or they will unlatch the house door.

Celebrating the year’s change

A really interesting Irish New Year’s tradition would involve people opening the back door of their house just before midnight to “let the Old year out” and opening the front door to “let the New Year in”. While opening the front door at midnight, people will also greet their neighbours and wish them a Happy New Year!

Do you want to know how to wish someone a Happy New Year in Irish? Watch the following Irish pronunciation video and you’ll find out!

How to say Happy New Year in Irish

New Year’s even in Ireland for single people

People who are alone on New Year’s even should place springs of holly, ivy leaves and mistletoe under their pillow. The tradition states that it will help them dream the person who they would marry.

The New Year’s traditions in Ireland also encourage people to show their family and close friends how much they meant for them by offering small but thoughtful gifts.

Older New Year’s Traditions from Ireland

On New Year’s day itself, people, most often than, the women folk, visited their relatives, quite often relatives you would only visit about once a year. This was with the hopes that you would get the new year off to a good start and not fall out with your relatives.

For Catholics, New Year’s day was also the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ up until 1960, so therefore it was an obligation to attend Mass.

The day was celebrated with a large dinner and no work was done.

Other New Year’s traditions from Ireland would involve cleaning the dishes so Cú Chulainn would leave treats or taking out all the purses and wallets from the house just before midnight and bringing them back in just after midnight so people won’t have money trouble in the New Year.

We’re sure that not all the above New Year’s traditions are celebrated only in Ireland and we couldn’t possibly say which ones have made their way over the centuries. Why don’t you tell us in the comments? Do you know any of the above New Year’s traditions from Ireland, do you have others you’d like to share?

16 thoughts on “New Year’s Traditions from Ireland”

  1. I don’t know what Lynne was smoking back in 2016, but we’ve never eaten cabbage or black eyed peas in the United States for good luck.

  2. My dna tests say 47% Irish and 46% Scottish and a bit of Dutch. My maternal great grandparents came from Ireland. I am familiar with the cleaning, the doors etc. but am learning more everyday.

  3. My grandmother was a Meads and her family was from IRELAND. She always made us unlock and open the back door then right at midnight we’ve be fussed at who was going to open the front door to greet our neighbors. There were 7 of us girls all wanting to do it ..lol
    My Moms’ family also was Irish (McElvana) and we cleaned the house till it was spotless., you could eat off the floors. I still try to keep my house very clean in memory of my Mom..
    I had my DNA done several years ago and knew I was Irish but was surprised that it was only 9%. because I have several ancestors of Irish descent. But what really surprised me was it showed 31% Scottish and I traced only 3 ancestors back to Scotland.. Happy New Year Everyone

    1. Cabbage every new year for this Irish American family who settled in Indiana and moved west to Arizona more recently. Cabbage tradition still going strong. 🙂

  4. On the subject of “Clean, clean, clean!”, Here’s a paragraph from the story “Ar Thóir Saibhris” that Peadar Ó Concheanainn wrote in 1931 in the book “Inis Meáin”, describing the island people’s hustle and bustle at the time of year:

    “Ba é taca na Nollag é, agus mar is gnách faoin tuaith, bhí muintir an bhaile ag ullmhú agus ag réiteach suas chun gairm agus onóir a chur faoi chomhair na haimsire beannaithe. Bhí a cheann posta féin ag gach duine le déanamh — an fear thuas ar bharr an tsimléir agus scuab dhreancáin aige agus í ceangailte le téad i lár báire, á scaoileadh síos chuig an bhfear a bhí ar an teallach — gach duine acu sin ar a mhine géire ag tarraingt na scuaibe suas agus anuas tríd an simléar nó faoi dheireadh nach mbíodh oiread súiche air agus a chuirfeá síos i gcloigeann píopa. Bhí na mná óga féin ag sciúrachán agus ag glantachán throscán an tí a bhí cineál smeartha tar éis deoch aoil a chur suas. Bean an tí ag fuáil agus ag preabáil nó b’fhéidir ag déanamh sparáin a bheadh aici lena cuid airgid a chur ann nuair a bheadh sí ag dul chun an bhaile mhóir ag iarraidh chuid nuaíochta na Nollag. Ach is é an scéal é bíodh chuile dhuine lena cheird féin mar a deireadh Seán Eibhlín nuair a bhíodh sé ag spaisteoireacht siar agus aniar an bóthar agus a dhá láimh i bpócaí a bhríste aige agus gan é ag déanamh tada.”

    English for that might look something like:

    It was Christmastime, and as usual out in the country, the townspeople were preparing to welcome and honor the blessed season. Everyone had his own job to do — the man up at the top of the chimney with a thistle brush, a rope fastened around its middle, dropping it down to the man at the hearth below — both pulling the brush with all their might up and down through the chimney until eventually there was no more soot than would fill the head of a pipe. The young women were scrubbing and cleaning the furniture, spattered after a new lick of whitewash on the house. The woman of the house stitching and patching, or perhaps making a purse to put her money in when she went to the bigger town looking for Christmas news. And that’s how it was — everyone to his own task, as Seán Eibhlín would say as he walked up and down the road, his hands in his pants pockets, not doing anything.

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